Wattan Media Network: In a forgotten geographical area, far away from the hustle and flurry of the city and worries of the officials and the eyes of the cameras, the girls and boys in Birin – Khallet AlFurn south of Hebron struggle on a daily bases to obtain their basic right in education, a right guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human rights and several international conventions.
The girls and boys in Birin, are strong, they start their day in the early morning and take on a long journey, to reach the only school in their area, which is the only refuge for about 50 students.
The mixed School in Birin suffers from a severe lack of educational facilities, such as classrooms, teaching staff, and infrastructure, and faces many challenges that hinder the development and expansion of the school.
Mr. Mohammed Eid Abu Th’ahir, a member of the Men’s Alliance which was established by ADWAR Association, to support and advocate for women’s rights, said that their Alliance follows up with most of the eminent problems and needs of the community and that they are attentive to the needs and concerns of the people, and to women in particular. He added that school is mixed for girls and boys from the first grade to the eighth grade, and it consists of only 4 classrooms roofed with iron panels (Zinco), and it employs 7 teachers.
It is noteworthy that the Men’s Alliance was established in that rural area as part of the project “(Action, Pillar, Anchor) Positive masculinity for Societal Change and the Protection of Civic Participation of Women and Young Women”, within the framework of the Civic Participation and Community Engagement (CPCE) Project, implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in partnership with the Family Health International (fhi360) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Abu Eid took part in a committee that was composed of representatives from the Women’s Protection Committee of Birin, the students’ parents, and the village local council in several meetings with the Directorate of Education- Hebron, to deliver their demands and to attain the needs of the school, where they always received promises in vain, none of those promises were implemented.
Abu Eid said: “We held along with the Women’s Protection Committee several meetings with the Directorate of Education and informed them about the harsh condition of the school and its needs, but we only received promises, none of them were implemented so far. We demanded attention to our urgent needs to increase the number of classrooms, provide kindergartens, and to improve the infrastructure.”
The current condition of the school obligates us to join girls and boys students of every two stages into one classroom, meaning that the students of the first and second grades are seated in one classroom, as well as the third and fourth grades, and so on. While students who finish the eighth grade cannot complete their education, due to the lack of classes and teachers for high school stages.
The village is located in area classified as “C”, according to the Oslo Agreement, and a bypass road cuts through it from the middle. Birin is located on one side, and on the other side is Khallet AlFurn. This forces the school children living in Birin to cross the bypass road on a daily bases to reach their school, and that exposes them to several risks, particularly being run over by speeding vehicles. Birin is a marginalized area that faces substantial difficult political conditions.
Abu-Th’ahir said that “The population of Birin – Khallet AlFurn is about 500 people, and it is located between Bani Naim, Hebron and Yatta, and it is underneath primitive infrastructure conditions, as the roads are unpaved, and it is divided by a bypass road that cuts it into two parts: Birin and Khallet AlFurn.”
Abu-Th’ahir added: “The community is devoid of kindergartens, the school children share classrooms, and the lack of high-school classrooms from the ninth to the twelfth grade – Tawjihi, forces the students to drop out of school.”
Abu-Th’ahir, pointed out that the political and social conditions greatly affect the school, located one kilometer away, and is surrounded by a bypass road, and this reality prompted many students to drop out of school for fear of exposure to any risks.
Birin is located 2 km away from the school (the bypass road splits the village into two parts, the first part is Birin, separated by 2 km from the second part, which is Khallet AlFurn) and this compels the school children to cross the road back and forth to the school, which endangers them and exposes them to the possibility of being run-over by speeding vehicles.
Mohammed Abu-Th’ahir is one of those suffered by this, as his 8-year-old son was hit by a speeding car last year while returning from school, he underwent 3 surgeries, and is still continuing his treatment.
Abu-Th’ahir, is a member of the Men’s Alliance, alongside members of the Women’s Protection Committee, demand the Ministry of Education and the authorities to provide kindergartens, increase the number of classrooms in the school, and to open classes for Tawjihi, as there are many girls and boys who want to complete their education. He emphasized the importance of raising the educational level of girls, young women, and boys and young men in improving their living conditions.
He also stressed the need to secure safe transportation, and to increase the educational staff, and to comply with the supervision of the Ministry of Education and the related authorities over the school, in addition to expanding the school yard area, which currently does not exceed 20 square meters.
Abu-Th’ahir said that the women and men of the village knocked on all doors to achieve these demands, but to no avail, and that they look forward for the accountable authorities to respond.